By Rick Manning
Congress has taken a giant step backwards in gun ownership, but it should be paying attention as the Supreme Court has affirmed the right to keep and bear arms today.
New York State put laws into place that made it virtually impossible for the average person to legally carry a firearm without a license, and the Supreme Court today affirmed that the bearing of arms is constitutionally protected for law-abiding citizens in a landmark decision. Now states have to provide the means in order for ordinary citizens to be able to exercise their rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision by Justice Clarence Thomas in New York State Rifle & Piston Association v. Bruen found New York State had violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s application of the Second Amendment to states, writing in part, “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.’ … The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need. The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different. New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”
Today’s Supreme Court decision is the final word for a generation on the self-defense debate that has engulfed New York City and the nation since the 1980s when a gentleman named Bernie Goetz defended himself on a subway car using a handgun while being attacked by number of muggers and then had to defend himself against overzealous prosecutors, resulting in Goetz’ acquittal on self-defense grounds of the shooting, but convicted on a unlicensed weapons possession charge. That charge that resulted from New York State’s gun restrictions would have been overturned by today’s ruling.
The Goetz case ignited debate across the country surrounding the right to bear arms leading to the passage of dozens of laws at the state level expanding the right to carry and the right to self-defense. While Congress still hasn’t figured out that shall not infringe means what it says in the Constitution.
The Supreme Court today left no doubt that law-abiding citizens have the right to carry guns to defend themselves or for any other reason.
Perhaps Congress will read the decision and the reconsider the unconstitutional path they are following an egregious expansion of civil asset forfeiture to confiscate firearms, a straightforward deprivation of property without due process, targeting American citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.